Cambridge Audio Azur 550A review

The Azur 550A is another fine budget amplifier from Cambridge Audio, although in this market the competition's more than fierce Tested at £270.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Another fine budget amp from the specialists in that field – but we’d pay a little more for the best


  • +

    Sparkling design and sound

  • +

    scale, dynamics and detail are very good


  • -

    Edgy treble

  • -

    competition is very fierce

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It's been a long time coming but we've finally got our hands on the Cambridge Audio Azur 550A, the less powerful sibling to the 650A seen this time last year.

We highlight the lower power – this amp pumps out 60W per channel as opposed to 75W – as there isn't much to tell them apart.

It's certainly every bit as smartly turned out as the bigger brother. There's a thick, brushed-aluminium front panel and sticklers for detail will be pleased to note some slight adjustments to the design of the control buttons.

Still, the general design of Cambridge Audio's amplifiers remains easily recognisable.

Stereo amplifiers haven't seen the revolution in functionality and features that products in other areas of the industry have enjoyed, so the inputs and outputs remain resolutely predictable.

There's no phono stage, should you want to connect a turntable, but there are six audio inputs and two outputs in all, including an MP3, 3.5mm input on the front, plus two sets of speaker outputs.

Redesigned and upgraded
On the inside, compared with the 540A, there's a newly redesigned output stage, an upgraded CAP5 protection system – which monitors for overloads and clipping without affecting sound quality – brand-new signal capacitors and gold-plated speaker outputs.

Sonically, we're happy to report that this amp follows in the formidable footsteps of the 650A. Listening to Basement Jaxx's U Can't Stop Me, there's impressive control and sure-footed timing of what is an exuberant, busy track, while The XX's Night Time reveals plenty of scale, space and insight.

High frequencies again walk the line between exciting and bright so take some care when partnering this amplifier – and indeed playing edgy recordings at high volume. But otherwise dynamics impress, with solid bass to offset the lively treble.

Competition here is fierce; the 550A can't quite scale the heights of our Also Consider choices, but is nevertheless a good and welcome addition to the budget market.

See all our stereo amplifier Best Buys

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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